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Top 5: Cities in colour

Banish grey skyscrapers and minimalist chrome and celebrate places of perfect pigment

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Pink painted door in Jaipur. Image: Getty

Pink painted door and lock in Jaipur. Image: Getty

01 Jaipur Pretty in pink
From technicolour temples to golden cities, nowhere makes a daily celebration of colour like India. Jaipur in Rajasthan takes the spectrum to extremes — the entire city is painted pink, the Indian colour of hospitality, since a British royal visit in 1876.

Chefchaouen. Image: 4Corners

Chefchaouen. Image: 4Corners

02 Chefchaouen Funky blue medina
Said to have been introduced to the Moroccan city by Jewish refugees in the 1930s to symbolise the sky and heavens, Chefchaouen’s old town (medina) looks as if it could have been styled by Yves Klein. The cool blue has since been maintained as a magnet for tourists, and is also thought to repel mosquitos.

Santorini. Image: 4Corners

Santorini. Image: 4Corners

03 Santorini Whitewash Cyclades
White, popular for its ability to reflect heat, is synonymous with the Cyclades islands. Santorini, seen as the archetypal whitewash village, was in fact multi-coloured until the late 1960s when Greece’s military government dictated otherwise.

Dubrovnik. Image: Corbis

Dubrovnik. Image: Corbis

04 Dubrovnik Terracotta red top
Terracotta rooftops are seen in medieval towns and cities across the Med and Adriatic, but Croatian cities such as Dubrovnik are more luminous than most. Originally designed by Italian architects, the war with Serbia saw the old town’s tiles go up in smoke, to be rebuilt in the late 1990s, brighter than ever.

Izamal. Image: Getty

Izamal. Image: Getty

05 Izamal Mexican mellow yellow
Not so much mellow, really, as an intense, all-pervading egg-wash yellow. This Mexican town was, in Mayan times, a centre of devotion for the sun god Itzamná. However, Spanish colonialists, who built the city’s impressive monastery, are more than likely at the root of this monochromatic marvel.


Published in the December 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)